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Growing your AP program can have a broader impact than what’s typically expected. By providing more students with more exposure to advanced coursework, you can raise the student achievement of your entire school.

More Than a Score

While 2 out of 3 AP students earn some college credit, success in AP is measured by more than exam results. We’ve recently confirmed what AP teachers have long known—students benefit from completing their AP course and exam, regardless of their score.

While credit and placement opportunities are more valuable than ever, this article and the research below demonstrate the additional benefits taking AP courses and exams have.

Research shows students who take AP courses and exams:

  • Are more likely than their peers to attend college and graduate on time. Even AP Exam scores of 1 or 2 predict better college outcomes than academically similar college students who didn’t take an AP course and exam.  
  • And students who achieve an AP Exam score of 2 do significantly better in introductory college classes (compared to academically similar students who don’t take that corresponding AP Exam).
  • Also, students who achieve AP Exam scores of a 1 or 2 often earn a higher score on the subsequent AP Exams they take.

AP Students by Average AP Score

Academically Similar Students with No AP

Average AP Score of 1



Average AP Score of 2



Average AP Score of 3



Average AP Score of 4



Average AP Score of 5



NOTES: Probability of enrollment immediately after high school graduation is calculated for 1,560,229 students who graduated high school in 2017. Probabilities are calculated separately for the average student in each AP score sample conditional on gender, ethnicity, first-generation status, SAT score, and HSGPA.

There's a lot of power in the 2. A 2 will get you in the door. Most places it doesn't get you the credit, but it shows colleges that you're ready for rigorous coursework.

— Timothy Towslee, AP English Language and Composition Teacher, Glen Allen High School (Va.)